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BST blog – Ali Young – Full steam ahead to Tokyo

Written by 20th May 2021 Blog, Tokyo 2020

In the run up to Tokyo 2020 we will be bringing you guest blogs from the Team GB selected athletes who will give you an insight in to their lives ahead of the Olympic Games – this month, soon to be making her third Olympic Games appearance, ILCA 6 sailor Ali Young.

An Olympic year is always crunch time in our sport. It’s the pinnacle of what we do and you have to do everything you believe you need to in order to maximise your performance for an event that only comes around once every four years…or five in this case.

This year I started working with a new coach, Charlie Baillie-Strong. He’s a good guy and from having worked with a number of smaller nations in the past, like the New Zealand Paralympic team, Malaysia and Cook Islands, he brings a different perspective and approach. He’s very detailed and analytical and good at identifying different ways we can tackle some of the areas I’m working on. I definitely believe that with his help and the support of the other guys that are part of my team, it really gives me the opportunity to get the best out of myself.

February was our first month working together and we’ve done some training blocks in Vilamoura and Lanzarote. It has been good to reconnect with my foreign training partners, the Olympic representatives from Sweden, Germany and Hungary, and we feel that the program is heading in the right direction.

Alison Young

Alison Young ©Lloyd Images

In Lanzarote we had a ‘coaches regatta’ which having not raced since October was a good opportunity to chip off some racing rust. We use the regattas to check in with the fleet, but mainly to see if we’ve made progress and have been targeting the right areas. With the lack of racing it is easy to fall into a bit of a comfort zone when you are training with the same people all the time. So getting back racing has been really useful to help steer our program going forwards.

After Lanzarote I came back to the UK for a while. With quarantines on return it was a chance to take a proper break from sailing. It’s good to have that break when training is intensified and in a way quarantine kind of forces that upon you – it’s just a matter of making the most of what you’ve got and what you have to do.

At the moment I’m back home in Weymouth after racing at the European Continental Qualifier in Vilamoura. As it was the final European qualifier for the Olympics it was a pretty strong and big fleet, so a great chance to see how the training has been going and check in.

I didn’t set the world alight out in Vilamoura, but I wasn’t left chasing shadows either. There was definitely some pleasing progress in areas we had been working on around starting and mindset, which suggest that what we’ve been addressing in training is on the right track. And it gives us a good platform to build off going forwards.

Ali Young at Team GB launch © Nick Dempsey

Looking forward to the Olympics. It’s been a different build up for everybody and not ideal conditions for anyone in regards to how they would lead in to a Games. But you have to adapt, and when the Olympics comes round I think it will be the usual suspects at the top of the fleet. There are some fantastic sailors in our fleet and it’s great to be able to compete against them.

I feel very lucky that we’ve been able to continue training and have some competitions over the past year or so despite the challenges the world faces due to Covid. It’s definitely a privilege.

I’m confident that with the support of the team around me, and a consistent approach to my training I’ll be able to execute a performance I can be proud of in Tokyo. At the end of the day you have to be careful not to choke on your aspirations and to keep focused on the processes that will guide me to a good performance.